PhilSci Archive

Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters

Norton, John D. (2011) Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters. [Preprint]

PDF - Draft Version
Download (340Kb) | Preview


    It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.

    Export/Citation:EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
    Social Networking:

    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: For updates, see
    Keywords: Approximation, idealization, phase transitio, thermodynamic limit
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
    General Issues > Models and Idealization
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
    Depositing User: John Norton
    Date Deposited: 25 May 2011 12:05
    Last Modified: 25 May 2011 12:05
    Item ID: 8622

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads